Earlier this week, Disney updated its Fantasmic! schedule to include, among other changes, three Fantasmic! shows per night between December 26 through 31st. While this isn't the first time we've seen days with three Fantasmic! shows per night, it does raise the question of what the move means and if Disney is telling those coming to Walt Disney World for Christmas to beware of large crowds.
You can look at the Fantasmic! schedule (along with the park hours) as a barometer of how crowded Disney thinks its parks will be. Meaning, when they schedule just one Fantasmic! show for a night, that means they are anticipating a less crowded day. And when they expect a bigger crowd, they will bump up the Fantasmic! shows to include two shows. But three shows is their "nuclear option".
Three shows in one day is typically reserved for the busiest days of the year. Not even Easter or July 4th typically see three shows per day. Instead, we've seen it used during Christmas week so if you are coming to Disney World during that week, how do you handle it?
The first thing to remember is the best advice for seeing Fantasmic! is to always see the last show. When there's two shows per night, you see the second and when there's three shows per night, you see the third. Each show sucks in about 10,000 people and most often those 10,000 people will leave the park following the show.
I don't think you need me to tell you that Christmas week will be crowded and there will be long wait times. So when Disney announces three shows, you need to have the mentality of a surfer during a hurricane: while everyone else is leaving, the surfers are out in the water enjoying the larger than normal waves. What this means is, take advantage of it by getting to the park before opening (Hollywood Studios opens at 8am to all guests this week) and if you're seeing the last Fanasmic! show, that gives you two other shows to suck up other guests and thus alleviating the strain on other attractions.
One of my favorite things to enjoy during Fantasmic! is the Osborne Lights. They get so crowded but when Fantasmic! begins, you'll notice the crowd wane and certainly after two Fantasmic! shows, you'll notice even more of a dip.
From a Disney pundit standpoint, three Fantasmic! shows is a welcome return. Disney opted not to offer three Fantasmic! shows in 2010 and it was a bad sign considering they had offered it every year prior to 2010. But it's return in 2011 tells me that Disney is behind Fantasmic! once again and for those who want Fantasmic! to be a nightly event, such as myself, it's a good sign to see the pre-Fantasmic! cut trends returning.
If you're one of the thousands that will descend upon Walt Disney World for Christmas week this year, arm yourselves with good walking shoes, a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the knowledge that three Fantasmic! shows each night is good and bad, but mostly good.